Monday, September 13, 2010

Convoy on 'Ice'

Well Ice Road Truckers fans, we've got ourselves a convoy! I know it's highly doubtful that Carlile coincidentally chose only the stars of the series to run this convoy to Nuiqsut, but I don't care. I LOVED the fact that they all traveled together, got stranded in Prudhoe together, and ventured out onto the river ice together. Of course, there were some tense moments between the drivers, but there were some fabulous bonding ones as well. One such moment happened in one of the most remote places on earth and involved a unique native tradition and an even more unique menu.  But first, the drivers had to make it 500 miles through some pretty hairy conditions and then across weakening river ice.

Imagine living in a village so remote that supplies can only be delivered once a year by truck (more frequently by air, but that costs a lot more). And, deliveries by truck depend on the river being frozen enough to support the uber-heavy loads that are bound for the tiny native village. With the end of the season approaching quickly, the truckers needed to get as many supplies through as possible before the river ice started to melt and travel became impossible. Thus, the convoy was born. The truckers first drove the 500-mile Dalton to Prudhoe and then had to take the journey across the river ice to Nuiqsut. Things started out OK (save for Lisa who got partially up the road only to find out that Carlile gave her the wrong load costing her 2 hours). There were a few squabbles between the drivers along the way. Alex was annoyed with Greg because he wasn't going fast enough up and down hills to give Alex the proper momentum for his heavier load. But, overall, they made it up the Dalton just fine. They managed to get a sober reminder along the way (an overturned truck that caught the edge of the road before tumbling into a ditch), and they drove the last 40 miles white knuckle through a Phase 2 blow. But, that's just all part of the experience, right?

Once in Prudhoe, they hit a bit of a speed bump. The Phase 2 blow was getting worse and travel to Nuiqsut was not advised. So, they hunkered down in their respective trucks and got a good night's sleep. The next morning they woke to even worse weather. After 36 hours and a few shared meals, they were finally on their way across the dangerous river ice.  Ironically, this part of the trip was the least eventful of the entire thing.  They maintained the appropriate slower speed (so as not to cause a powerful wave of water that would eventually break through the ice and swallow the trucks) and got into the village without complication.  The most difficult part came when they needed to each find their individual locations.  Lisa got lost trying to find the owner of the repaired snowmobile she was hauling.  Jack had the all-important fuel, but had no problems finding where it belonged because he had made an earlier run to the village.  Greg took his school supplies to a local school and got to meet some of the kids.  Alex delivered carpet to a local church while rival Hugh returned a boat to a happy owner.  It was seriously like watching Santa make his rounds!  After all of the deliveries were made, Hugh, Alex, Ray and Greg stayed in town to attend a Potlatch ceremony at the community center.  They dined on walrus and whale before taking part in some of the native dance customs.  It was awesome!  I only wish Lisa and Jack had been able to stick around for it.

And speaking of awesome, there are NO WORDS to describe how happy I am about this....

In the meantime, Ice Road Truckers airs Sunday nights on History. To catch up on this season, click on over to where you'll also get more information, trucker bios, and an IRT app for your iPhone.

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